Changing face of campaigns |New narratives for the New Normal

Chitra Narayanan | Updated on May 28, 2020

From human stories to point of view content, how brands are adapting to different types of storytelling

The new normal needs a new narrative from brands. “Thirty-second advertising is limiting,” points out Aditya Bhat, head of Jio Creative Labs. He says the future is all about brands adapting to different ways of storytelling, and accelerating digital engagement.

For instance, he cites the new Godrej Expert Hair dye campaign featuring Karan Johar, done by Creative Land Asia. The Bollywood director had been humorously posting his grey-haired images over social media, joking that he was available for father roles and ruefully pointing out how he was being called uncle on his feed. And then, to coincide with his birthday, he goes in for a hair makeover, sporting black locks.

The humorous, influencer-marketing campaign showcases the transformation of Karan Johar into a young-looking person even as it plays up the the ease of using hair dye at home. “It’s a great example of topical marketing done well using a celebrity,” says Bhat.

Point of view content

While during the lockdown, influencer marketing has come in for some flak, especially as some of the situations paraded by celebrities looked inauthentic, Bhat bats quite strongly for it. “One has to look at the data insights — what are the posts getting the engagement for each celebrity, where are the likes coming up and try and do stuff that fits in with their personality,” he says, giving the example of how Jacqueline Fernandez’s killer dance posts (the star acted in Netflix movie Mrs Serial Killer) were a winning move. The challenge is to execute it in a natural manner and not like a paid endorsement, he says.

For Helo app, Jio Creative Labs did a Mother’s Day social media campaign urging users to be their supermom’s heroes. Influencers posted special deeds they did for their moms — being a yoga hero, a cooking hero, a laundry hero — in the infectious campaign.

Bhat also says using real users to share their point of view actually helps brands. For instance, for GoPro, one of their clients, they hand-picked three Instagram accounts that were sharing beautifully-shot content.

Mobile and tech driven content

Though brands have upped the engagement on digital during Covid-19, Bhat says even digital is limiting. For media dark regions or for accurate geo targeting, mobile offers more opportunities.

Take Reckitt Benckiser brand Moov, which has, in an interesting shift from the pain relief narrative, embraced the fitness and prevention angle. During the lockdown it has been talking about sitting in the right posture.

“We have done a graphics-based narrative for the brand depicting simple exercises for the back,” says Bhat. This will be delivered to Jio’s 338 million subscriber base through the MyJio platform. The Facebook-Jio deal opens up even more possibilities. “I am hoping to partner with Facebook strategically to develop technology driven content in better ways,” he says.

As an example, he describes how, during the last mango season, for Reliance Mart, Jio Creative Labs created a gaming experience shot on 360 degree VR that showed farmers in Ratnagari. The game was to pick mangoes from trees, which earned coupon discounts for customers.

“It worked brilliantly for the brand,” says Bhat. Jio Creative Labs is essentially trying to be what Mudra was to Reliance — a self-sustaining SBU of the conglomerate focused on advertising and marketing. In 2011, ADA Reliance sold majority of its stake in Mudra to Omnicom.

In 2015, Reliance Industries bought Aditya Bhat founded Business of Ideas as its advertising and marketing arm, integrating it into its Jio Studios. This month, the name has been changed to Jio Creative Labs to avoid confusion with the films division of Reliance.

However, the future of branded content, Bhat believes, will be real human stories that could be translated into brand axioms.

Human stories

At the Jio Creative Labs, a team of storytellers are engaged in researching real life human stories from across the country that could potentially be the basis for a branded story.

For instance, there is a story of a tea-selling couple who have been married for 35 years going on an annual holiday. Each year, they save up and plan for an annual vacation. It fits well for a travel brand.

Bhat says the spike in consumption of OTT streaming content is an opportunity for brands to co-create compelling content.

Branded content has always existed, be it in television or in print (remember LG’s Mallika-E-Kitchen?) but now OTT offers the brand the chance to actually weave the brand into the story narrative.

In fact, online YouTube channel, The Viral Fever, has been developing branded content for some time now. It had a series, Tripling, woven around a sibling road trip that featured Tata Motors Tiago seamlessly in the narrative.

“The audience likes it more if the brand is introduced into the story organically,” points out Sameer Saxena, chief content officer of TVF, describing how several brands have approached the firm asking for story lines that could feature them.

The disruption that the Covid pandemic has brought about will have an impact on the agency business, feels Bhat.

He says it is unlikely that agencies will be able to make ad films with extravagant budgets.

In the agency of the tomorrow, it is the writers who will be the backbone, creating beautiful inspirational stories filled with purpose.

Published on May 28, 2020

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